Monday, November 17, 2008

Pear Honey...well, kind of

I like to give credit for the recipes, especially since this one is not my own. I found it at Recipezaar. I have been craving it for weeks, and I am not especially fond of any kind of cooked fruit! I tried to be diligent and respond to a post on our local for free pears being offered before the freeze, but the lady never responded to me. I purchased some pears at a 99 cents/pound price. I did learn a lesson about purchasing something for a specific recipe: hide it! My fruit foragers of the family devoured my pears in one day! I grumbled a little bit when I noticed this, because I had already combined the pineapple with the sugar and lemon turning back now! I improvised and used apples instead, but the result was still scrumptious!

Pear Honey
  1. In a 6 quart stainless steel kettle combine all ingredients.
  2. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  3. Simmer 40 mins.
  4. Spoon into sterile jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.
  5. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids.
  6. Process in boiling water for 10 mins.
  7. Makes 7 half pints.
Just a note: In my opinion (and I have a terrible sweet tooth too), this is way too much sugar. I would reduce it to 3 1/2 cups the next time. I only made 1/3 of this recipe, because I'm not into canning preserves and had none of the canning supplies (I usually make freezer jam!). Therefore I only went through step 3 of the recipe.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's the big deal about $25?

Due to some unforeseen medical expenses over the past few months, we have had to pull from other budget areas to keep up with our obligations. For instance, our lawn needs to be reseeded and the gardens need to be mulched, but that will have to wait due to the medical bills. I was feeling a little bit grumpy about it because it needs to be done in the Fall of the year. We missed it again this year.

My older son's pants seem to be unable to keep up with the length of his legs, and my youngest son's hand-me-down pants need to be altered to keep up with his waist. So, I pulled out the sewing machine and learned to hem. Still, there have been some clothing expenses this month as the weather changed. They both need shoes, but only because of extreme wear and not for lack of fit, thankfully.

That's just one example of the many wants and needs that seem to be waylaid due to the struggling economy. More than once recently, I've felt more gripey than thankful, thinking that things never seem to go my way and I never really have been able to get ahead.

And then...

The mail came today with $25 in an envelope as payment from an in-depth survey that I had taken about television viewing. That $25 came on a week that is 4 days shy of my paycheck, but just in time to pay for my son's music lesson payment due on Wednesday. A $20 payment, I might mention, that had the potential to put a crimp on an already strained budget.

And there's enough left over to buy a gallon of milk :)

Matthew 6:31-32

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’
These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Redmond RealSalt

My dear friend, Jackie, asked me to post about my use of sea salt, as opposed to iodized table salt. I suppose I should make a disclaimer by stating that my use of sea salt is based on none other than the testimonies of other like-minded individuals, and a little of my own rationale. I prefer any food that I take to be minimally processed, salt being no different. Some sea salts are not as heavily processed as table salt, so they retain trace minerals that are usually removed in the refining process (a health benefit!). Also, most commercial salt manufacturers add iodine (which we get enough of already due to the highly processed American diet) or anti-caking additives like silica or bleaching agents. Since I've been using Redmond Sea Salt for four years, I have developed a discriminating palate. Commercial iodized salt actually tastes bitter to me now. Also, with Redmond RealSalt, I don't have to use as much, which means my sodium intake is naturally decreased. There are many forms of sodium that will raise blood pressure and cause edema (fluid retention) if you have issues with those things, sea salt included. However, based on testimonies, sea salt seems to have less of an adverse effect. Still, as in all things, moderation.

Lastly, salt is essential to life. Our blood is made up of 0.9% saline, which is why it is given via I.V. infusion to normally increase blood volume in ill patients. God amazingly designed our bodies! Sea salt soaks are recommended for a variety of ailments and wound healing. It is a effective treatment for psoriasis and eczema, and well known for its cleansing properties.

Try it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Egg blessing!

I received a phone call from a friend tonight that she was on the way home from the nearby dairy farm with milk...and 15 dozen eggs that the farmer offered to her. FOR FREE! I love free, and I love farm fresh eggs. So many people have a difficult time imagining me as a Florida farm girl, but I was for three years, just to try it out and have access to food where I could control its integrity. It was a fun hobby, but a lot of work. My chickens were my favorite. It was always a thrill to go out and lift the fanny of a hen to find an egg. I know, it doesn't take much to excite me.

Imagine my excitement to crack open some of those FREE eggs tonight and notice that they were all double yolked eggs. Betcha' never see those from the grocery store!

I am making big plans for my FREE eggs. Currently, I have four loaves of pumpkin-zucchini bread in the oven. The house smells like a farm house, the air laced with pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mhmmm.

Tomorrow I will make popovers. If you've never experienced a popover (hollow puffy rolls), you should!

Also, eggs can be whipped up and frozen, defrosted for use in a later recipe. For convenience, I freeze the eggs in two-egg portions.

Yes, this was an egg blessing! They will be put to good use!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My, how spoiled I have become

My bread machine paddle is missing. This has happened before, many years ago. I most likely pitched it out by accident with the end of a loaf. When this happened 5 years ago, I was able to buy an identical bread machine at a local thrift store for $5, from which I scavenged the paddle. Pretty thrifty, considering that a new paddle from a parts warehouse would have cost $20 plus shipping!

I am in the same position again, except that my bread machine is now 15 years old, and I have to wonder if I should just replace the entire unit. I used to see them all the time at thrift stores, or yard sales, but not so much now that I am looking to buy. And I am spoiled. I have a Kitchenaid with a dough hook, and I have the stoneware baking pans. The only problem with that, is that I have to heat up the entire oven to make it the old fashioned way, and I have to be here to babysit the loaf.

So, what should I do? Replace with another machine, or buy a paddle for $20, or just buckle down and do it the old fashioned way?

Or...should I delegate the job to Jordan, who has taken a fancy to bread making?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It takes very little to excite me

See? And I AM excited! There is nothing that compares to cooking with fresh herbs, and I usually buy them already lopped off the plant at Publix. For years, I have wanted my own herb garden or at least a garden window over my kitchen sink to have my own supply of fresh herbs readily at hand. This is even better, considering that I paid only $6.50 each for these herb gardens in a pot. The pot on the left contains rosemary, parsley, oregano, mint and basil. It is so fragrant smelling, I wish technology could support scratch and sniff blogging! The second pot contains sage, lemon thyme, garlic chives, rosemary and dark opal basil (that's the purple, large leafed plant). I don't want to move them from their temporary home on the kitchen table, but they need full sun so they will have to be moved to the back deck where I keep my container gardens.
How did I get these so frugally? Our local garden center, Holcomb's, issues Bonus Bucks throughout the year for purchases made at their store. Customers earn 10% back in Bonus Bucks for every purchase. Then, for five days in June, you can shop and redeem your Bonus Bucks for up to 50% off your purchase. Example: these herb gardens were $12.99 each times 2. The total sale was $26 and some tax, for which I paid $13.xx in cash and $13 in Bonus Bucks. This is one of my happiest frugally purchases ever, I feel like a kitty that found the catnip!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Recalled tomatoes

...and a recipe for Black Bean Salsa that does not use those recalled tomatoes.

I was in Publix tonight looking for more of those wonderful grape tomatoes that were on sale for $1/pint. When I couldn't find them, I asked the produce manager and he informed me that there was a recall on some tomatoes, so Publix decided to pull the grape tomatoes as a precautionary measure. He also told me that they plan on offering that sale again in the very near future, or I could get a rain check. I'll just wait and enjoy some of my own home-grown, salmonella-free tomatoes in a few weeks.

Here is my recipe for the Black Bean Salsa that was on our salad of several days ago:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, thoroughly rinsed, and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions (I used red)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped picked jalapeno (I throw in a little extra jalapeno pickle juice or vinegar)
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (about the amount of juice from one lime)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sugar (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, onions, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, basil, lime juice and olive oil. Add sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Peculiar: photographs her food

I wonder if others would describe me like that. It's true. I have a food photo fetish. I love pretty pictures of the food that I create. I wonder if that's how Martha Stewart launched her own empire?

Anyway, here's our dinner for tonight, and it was scrumptious.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hamburger Buns of the homemade kind

I decided to try some homemade hamburger buns tonight rather than run out to the store just for buns (which I thought I had in the depths of my freezer). Besides, have you priced hamburger buns lately at regular retail?! $2.39! I tried this recipe, but I used whole wheat flour instead. They were good. My family raved about them. The grilled turkey burgers that went in them, however, were not a big hit. I thought the burgers were good, but my husband prefers beef and my little vegetarian was not happy with tonight's dinner.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • I added 4 1/2 tsp. vital wheat gluten
  1. Combine the milk, 1 cup of water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let stand until lukewarm (110-115 degrees F). If the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and yeast. Pour in wet ingredients and stir until the dough starts to pull together. If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to mix for about 6 minutes. If not, knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 portions They should be a little larger than a golf ball. Make tight balls out of the dough by pulling the dough tightly around and pinching it at the bottom. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. After the rolls sit for a minute and relax, flatten each ball with the palm of your hand until it is 3 to 4 inches wide. You may want to oil your hand first. Set rolls aside until they double in size, about 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Mix together the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water in a cup or small bowl. Brush onto the tops of the rolls. Position 2 oven racks so they are not too close to the top or bottom of the oven.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove the rolls from the oven and return them to different shelves so each one spends a little time on the top. Continue to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until nicely browned on the top and bottom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How to save up to $600 on groceries every year

Have you ever been overly ambitious about eating fresh foods? Did you realize it after you came home from the store and crammed your refrigerator full of fruits and veggies only to discover them again weeks later: a cellophane bag of moldy, slimy mush? Yeah, me too. And it makes me mad because fresh food is so expensive! I received this article via e-mail today from

How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh

Proper Storage Prevents Spoilage, Saving You Hundreds

-- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator and Stepfanie Romine, Staff Writer
SparkPeople Sponsors help keep the site free!
Eating more fruits and vegetables is a requirement for every healthy eater. But when you buy more fresh produce, do you end up throwing away more than you eat? You're not alone.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away nearly 31.6 million tons of food every year. And a recent University of Arizona study found that the average family tosses 1.28 pounds of food a day, for a total of 470 pounds a year! That's like throwing away $600!

Storing fresh produce is a little more complicated than you might think. If you want to prevent spoilage, certain foods shouldn't be stored together at all, while others that we commonly keep in the fridge should actually be left on the countertop. To keep your produce optimally fresh (and cut down on food waste), use this handy guide.

Countertop Storage Tips
There’s nothing as inviting as a big bowl of crisp apples on the kitchen counter. To keep those apples crisp and all countertop-stored produce fresh, store them out of direct sunlight, either directly on the countertop, in an uncovered bowl, or inside a perforated plastic bag.

Refrigerator Storage Tips
For produce that is best stored in the refrigerator, remember the following guidelines.
  • Keep produce in perforated plastic bags in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. (To perforate bags, punch holes in the bag with a sharp object, spacing them about as far apart as the holes you see in supermarket apple bags.)
  • Keep fruits and vegetables separate, in different drawers, because ethylene can build up in the fridge, causing spoilage.
  • When storing herbs (and interestingly, asparagus, too), snip off the ends, store upright in a glass of water (like flowers in a vase) and cover with a plastic bag.
What to Store Where: A Handy Chart
Use this color-coded key along with the chart below:
  • Store unwashed and in a single layer
  • Store unwashed and in a plastic bag
  • Store in a paper bag
  • *Ethylene producers (keep away from other fruits and vegetables)

Store in Refrigerator

Apples (storage >7 days)



Brussels sprouts



Green beans

Green onions
Herbs (except basil)
Lima beans
Leafy vegetables



Summer squash
Yellow squash

Store on Countertop

Apples (storage < 7 days)


Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Onions (away from potatoes)
Potatoes (away from onions)
Spaghetti squash
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash

Ripen on Counter,



*More about Ethylene: Fruits and vegetables give off an odorless, harmless and tasteless gas called ethylene after they're picked. All fruits and vegetables produce it, but some foods produce it in greater quantities. When ethylene-producing foods are kept in close proximity with ethylene-sensitive foods, especially in a confined space (like a bag or drawer), the gas will speed up the ripening process of the other produce. Use this to your advantage if you want to speed up the ripening process of an unripe fruit, for example, by putting an apple in a bag with an unripe avocado. But if you want your already-ripe foods to last longer, remember to keep them away from ethylene-producing foods, as designated in the chart above.

Food is expensive, and most people can't afford to waste it. Print off this handy chart to keep in your kitchen so you can refer to it after every shopping trip. Then you'll be able to follow-through with your good intentions to eat your 5-9 servings a day, instead of letting all of that healthy food go to waste.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Getting an accurate idea of grocery spending

Trying to get a snapshot of our budget at any given moment has been a challenge, to say the least. I use MS Money to manage my accounts and I can generate a report, but there have been so many unusual scenarios over the past several months that I am having difficulty determining what we are actually spending on groceries. For instance:

We decided to use some of our economic incentive rebate to stockpile some food items, mainly grass-fed beef. So those are actually grocery costs for more than this month, and I have no idea how long a 1/4 side of beef will last us.

Feeding an extra adult in our home has not really impacted our bottom line...or has it? He contributes $100 a month for food, but his renal diet also requires me to purchase specialty items like rice milk (which is pricey), but something I would not normally buy.

Theoretically, I am feeding five adults (myself, my husband, my teenage daughter, my father-in-law, and my 12 year old son who eats double portions of meat) and one child, a vegetarian. That means I am also buying some specialty items for my 7 year old to ensure that he gets enough protein and B12*.

*I also include all supplemental and vitamin items as a grocery cost: cod liver oil, vitamin C, fiber supplements and multivitamins. I don't practice overkill on the vitamins and supplements, because we do eat a very balanced diet. I order from iHerb, which keeps the costs way down. What we do take in the way of supplements actually helps to reduce expenditures in other areas, such as healthcare and prescriptions.

It appears as though I am spending an average of $125-135 per week on groceries, but I'm not sure if that is an accurate picture, or if I am spending less. With my personality, I have a need to know :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The most wonderful thing about biscotti is...

it's biscotti! Aside from that, the next best thing is the ends of the biscotti. I got to eat all six biscotti ends for breakfast this morning. Here's the biscotti recipe that I used. The next time I will add more anise.

This is an untimely find, since I have just made the decision to give up coffee. For years, I have been aware that coffee aggravates some of my medical issues (rosacea, tummy troubles and inflammation), but I haven't taken the drastic step to give it up...until now. I am doing everything right for my health now, with coffee being the last vice. Ah well, I will eat my biscotti with my green tea.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oops, there it went

Menu Plan Monday came and went, see my penance recipe for Sticky Chicken at the end of this post.

My reason was this: I got a heads up from I-don't-remember-where that Food Lion had whole chickens on sale for 49 cents/pound. Wow! I hadn't seen that price in a while, so it was worth the trip three miles away for the deal. This was Monday morning, early, when I was the only person awake in my house. That way, I didn't detract from our regular schedule. I entered Food Lion with the intent of purchasing 10-15 chickens. However, when I got back to the meat department I quickly realized that I had stumbled on a jackpot of reduced meat. Now, if you remember the Food Lion meat scandal of the early 90's, you're probably thinking "ew, gross", but I think after that, Food Lion probably became one of the safest places to buy meat because of the scrutiny they received. Anyway, I got so many good bargains to last a while. The reductions were just taken (the date said 4/28, which was yesterday). I got several 5 pound Boston Butt roasts for 87 cents a pound. I got beef ribs, which my family adores. We normally wouldn't eat beef ribs because of the price. I also got a few Chuck Roasts, which can be slow cooked in a way that they are tender and juicy. I will be going back to Food Lion again on another Monday for more meat deals.

Sunday - leftover spaghetti dinner
Monday - Southern Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches in the slow cooker, cucumber salad, pasta salad, Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Tuesday - Lentils and Vegetable Soup, leftover pulled pork sandwiches, Green Leaf Salad
Wednesday - Sticky Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Steamed Vegetables, Butter Flake rolls
Thursday - Day Old Bread Casserole (using leftover chicken), rolls, peas
Friday - Pizza night
Saturday night - out of town company = out to eat!

and, now, from the family archives:

Sticky Chicken

Serves: 4

This chicken is an absolute family favorite. My family would eat this once per week, but I wait until I get a really, really good deal on whole chickens to keep it special by not serving it so often. Cooked, these resemble those tiny Tyson Rotisserie Chicken, or the expensive rotisserie chickens at the certain Market store. The skin is crisp, the inside is so moist! For my family I make two, so we have a little leftover.

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon white peppers
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 whole chicken
1 cup chopped onions

Combine all spices (first 8 ingredients) in small bowl.

Rinse chicken, inside & out. Drain well.

Rub spice mixture over skin and the inside of the chicken. Place in a resealable bag, seal and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to roast, stuff cavity with onions. Place chicken breast-side-up in roasting pan.

Roast, uncovered, at 250°F (that's not a's really 250°F). Baste occasionally with pan juices or until pan juices start to caramelize on bottom of pan and chicken is golden brown, about 5 hours.

Anything over 225°F is safe as long as the chicken reaches an internel temperature of at least 180 F, which this does, and more for about 5 hours.


Following regular chicken roasting instructions as follows: Pour melted butter over chickens. Place on roasting rack in shallow dish. Roast at 475 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Roast an additional 30-45 minutes, or until internal temperature is 180 F.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Menu Planning Software from DVO Enterprises.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

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Free shipping on orders over $60. Save $5 off your first order.

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Use code HEL260 .

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Going Mediterranean

We all have those friends in our lives. You know the ones who inspire us with their motivation or talents? Today I was reminded by the thoughts of one such friend...I need to eat right. Learning about nutrition is something that I enjoy doing. I don't always hop on the latest trend, but I do know a good diet when I see one. On the menu this week: we are going Mediterranean. Our top foods, according to the Mediterranean Book (as well as other successful campaigns like the South Beach Diet) should be:

  1. TOMATOES – cooked, they are rich in the antioxidant lycopene
  4. NUTS - full of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  5. WHOLE GRAINS (fiber!)
  6. FISH (or fish oils, as my case may be. I cannot find a decent, mild fish in this area!)
  7. BERRIES (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, any berries!)
  9. SPINACH (we like this raw, but we'll eat it steamed also)
  10. ORANGES (rich in folic acid, and vitamin C) this week, we'll be doing lots of lemons!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When life gives you lemons...

there's so much more to do with them than make lemonade! I talked to my sister yesterday. She'll be 46 in a few days, and is starting a regimen of nutritional counseling with her chiropractor. What advice did her chiropractic physician give to her? Eat lemons! Why? Lemons are one of God's most beneficial creations. I know that lemon juice is an excellent stain remover and air freshener. Cosmetic reasons aside, take a look at the health benefits:

Lemon juice is one of the best detoxifying agents/cleansing agents ever known to man. The vitamin C in lemons is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are necessary to rid the body of damage caused by free radicals.

Lemon juice can resolve nausea, as well as cure heartburn when mixed with hot water.

Lemon scent is a good "pick-me-upper".

For more on the benefits of lemons, click here.

Tonight, while shopping for a new set of salt and pepper shakers in Bed, Bath & Beyond, I came across this nifty gadget. Had to have it (extremely rare impulse buy), and I'm happy I did! The price on the gadget was $9.99, but it rung up as $19.99. They ALL said $9.99, which was a misprice, so the store gave it to me for that price. Then, I pulled out my nifty 20% off any item coupon, for a final price of $7.99! That may seem like a splurge, but we go through so many lemons during the summer, it really was a bargain! This will be a real time saver! Why didn't I know about this before? Culinary life begins at 41, I guess!

Monday, April 14, 2008


One of the biggest challenges to being a mom is scheduling and managing our lives. In life class yesterday, the pastor's wife read an excerpt from Ed Young's Outrageous, Contagious Joy.

Here are our three priorities: (1) relationships (2) worship (3) work . My project for the week is to write down everything that I have to do in the course of the week and to analyze if I am living according to these priorities. I can tell you, I don't think that I am...and I want to! How about you?

Take some time to prayerfully consider your schedules. What works, what doesn't? Why? Are you joyful?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

There is an alternative to bleach

Chlorine bleach is a hazardous material. Sure, it's an excellent cleaning medium, but do you really, really want the toxic exposure when there are alternatives?

I found this at Publix this weekend: Chlorine-free bleach. Active ingredient? Hydrogen peroxide, citric acid and water, which breaks down into harmless oxygen and water. Does it work? Yes.

I paid $1.50 for mine, works great on stains!

Try it!

Product review: glass cleaner

A friend recently sent me an e-mail of suggested uses for 3% hydrogen peroxide. Determined not to just jump on the bandwagon (as I had done with vinegar for a while) until I used my year's supply of FREE Windex collected during my initial spurt of couponing, I set the e-mail aside for a later time. When I finally read the e-mail thoroughly, I decided to try the hydrogen peroxide on my bathroom mirrors. WOW! Where has this knowledge been all of my life?! It is amazingly streak-free and certainly economical. I like it better than commercially prepared glass cleaner, and as a bonus, it is FUME-FREE!

I was never too impressed with vinegar as a glass cleaner, but I like the idea of natural.

Try it!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Did you know this about corn?

With all the great deals on corn, here's a clever way to cook it! Please try to buy local's better for you, better for the farmer!

You can pull back the husk (but not remove it!), remove the silk, place the husk back around the ear of corn, microwave for 2 1/2 minutes for one ear, 5 minutes for two ears, 7 1/2 minutes for three ears, etc.

Or, if you do not own a microwave or have reservations about microwaving your food, you can cook it in the crockpot:

Remove husk and silk from the ears of corn, place in your crockpot, cover with warm water, and cook on high for 2 hours.

Did I mention how much I love my crockpot?